One dives into the Sir Bob Jones versus Maori furore at one's peril ... So here goes.

The former Chronicle columnist wrote a piece last week suggesting Maori should be grateful for colonisation, saying: "We should introduce a new public holiday, Maori Gratitude Day, in place of the much disdained Waitangi Day."

On such a day, Jones reckoned Maori might occupy themselves bringing "us" breakfast in bed or weeding "our gardens". Washing cars was also on the agenda.

While there was a touch of tongue in cheek and a measure of nonsense in the column, there's little doubt Jones believes in most of what he wrote.

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The comments were typical of the man — he likes to provoke and cause a bit of outrage and, inevitably, he got it in spades.

Many were offended, upset and indignant. They took the bait and Jones' needling earned the anticipated result.

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for him to be stripped of his knighthood with the organiser of the petition accusing the Wellington property investor of "hate speech".

That charge hardly holds up. While Jones showed plenty of contempt, there was no incitement to hatred, and freedom of speech means — as it always must — the freedom to offend.

And what would removing his knighthood achieve. It would worrisomely push Jones — who will have relished the entertainment — toward victim/martyr status.

It should be remembered that knighthoods are the creation of white, unelected, colonial empire-builders. As a white, unelected financial empire-builder, it sits well with him.

Editor's Declaration of Interest: Sir Bob Jones is the only millionaire to have bought me lunch.